OZ Cabbie December 2015
When it comes dirty backroom deals few can beat the Liberal governments of NSW and Western Australia and their rolling over to the demands of Uber, a multi-million dollar global corporate terrorist. Have our politicians no pride, no morals? Is lawlessness now a virtue rather than a crime? Can any multi-national now set up business in Australia with total disregard for our laws and regulations? Is that what the slogan “Australia is open for business” invites?
The shock announcement by NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance on 17 December 2015, eight days before Christmas, that UberX has been legalised with immediate effect is an act of bastardry of the highest order. It will have a devastating impact on Sydney’s bailee taxi drivers, already some of the lowest paid workers in the country. The Christmas season is the only time we can make up for the 50% occupancy rate we endure most of the year.
But it is not only the wheeling and dealings with Uber that stink, there are ideological stink bombs right through the point-to-point reform package released on the same day. In 2015: A year of political bastardry I have expanded on the information already published in the daily press to give you a better understanding of where the future of our industry is heading. As always with reforms, there is the good, the bad and the ugly. Which is which is in the eye of the beholder.
There is also an article about the Victorian Taxi Services Commission’s test case against UberX driver Nathan Brenner. Magistrate Julian Ayers announced his decision in the case on 4 December. He found that Brenner was guilty of operating an illegal hire car without the appropriate driver authority but ruled that “no conviction be recorded” meaning he escaped getting a criminal record. Full story in The farcical outcome of TSC case against UberX driver.
For the first time in OZ Cabbie’s history we didn’t receive any letters to the editor. Fortunately that has created an opportunity to publish an outstanding letter to the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, from taxi owner John Rahilly, a long-time advocate for taxi industry reform.
He attacks the government, especially now former Transport Minister Jackie Trad, for failing to enforce the law against Uber, alleging that it amounts to corrupt conduct. Not long after his letter Ms Trad was replaced as Minister for Transport by Stirling Hinchliffe MP, a former minister in the Bligh Government. John has called for the matter to be investigated by the Crime and Corruption Commission. Read his letter in Have your say: John Rahilly.
Uber may be winning in Australia but it is facing a major headwind in it home state of California, not from the taxi industry or the regulator, but from its own drivers.
Earlier this month, a California judge ruled that tens of thousands of UberX drivers in the state may join a class action lawsuit seeking to allow the workers to be treated as employees instead of independent contractors. That could be a costly change for the company and 'ride-sharing' companies in general. A similar class action is underway in Ohio.
It is worth noting that UberX drivers in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast are also getting pissed off. As the number of UberX cars is growing, their income drop further and further below the minimum wage. As most UberX drivers are part-time and have a full-time job to go to, they are less subservient than full-time cabbies who drive to earn a living.
In the US 50% of UberX drivers last for less than a year before they realize they are being screwed. The 50% attrition rate is Uber’s own figure so it is likely to be substantially higher than that. Worth thinking about.
Sticking to our tradition, there won't be a January edition of OZ Cabbie, but we'll be back in February refreshed and sharper than ever.
Thank you for reading OZ Cabbie and all the best in the New Year.